After my trip to Minnesota last August, I entered a travel writing competition talking about the day I spent in Duluth, a port town on the shores of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. Unfortunately I didn’t win but as I’m leaving in a few days, why not share one of my favourite memories from my first holiday in the US? It is somewhat embellished in places and it’s not written in my usual style…but I’ve added pictures to it! Enjoy.
Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota, with eighteen miles of hiking trails situated in 1675 acres of forest, is a perfect way to experience nature in its entirety. The park, named after Gooseberry River and the five waterfalls found on its route to Superior, is known for being a peaceful place to escape the stress of everyday life.
I was dubious, however, that my girlfriend and I would find solitude amongst the throngs of tourists roaming this popular attraction. At the first falls, the inspiring sight of the water crashing onto the rocks below was somewhat marred by the hundred or so people in the vicinity. Consequently we kept walking in the blistering heat of the midday sun, determined to find a more discreet location.
It wasn’t long before we found a deserted spot, the sounds of laughter and chatter lost in the trees. With my feet cooling in the crystal clear water and the pleasing scent of pine soothing me into unconsciousness, this was the ideal place to have a quick break.
Completing our invigorating walk to the upper falls (the exertion rewarded with unspoilt views of the less populated waterfalls) we decided to leave, our stomachs rumbling. The visitor centre is worth detouring to before exiting, with information detailing the park’s geology, history and wildlife. The intriguingly coloured granite building also houses a gift shop providing a variety of souvenirs.
Travelling south to the port town of Duluth, we stopped at a deserted pebble beach to eat. Scrambling over boulders we sat on the shore of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world and one of the most incredible places I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
For Superior to be the size of a sea, yet be completely still and calm, was simply extraordinary. There was no tide, no waves. The boats on the horizon were not small vessels; they were huge goliaths ferrying their various goods across Superior. It was surreal. The contrast between what I had expected and what I actually saw was overwhelming.
In Duluth, we spent the late afternoon wandering through Canal Park before photographing the town’s historic lift bridge as it elevated for the American Century to pass through. The sirens wailed as it rose, encouraging people to stop and watch the 1000ft vessel approach. Afterwards we visited the Maritime Centre to learn more about Superior’s history.
The day was finished perfectly at ‘Grandma’s Ice Cream Shack’. I bought myself two scoops of Rainbow Sorbet, my jaw dropping as the treat was handed to me. It was huge, the ice cream defying gravity as it towered up from the waffle cone. The sweet taste flooded my mouth and I sighed in pleasure, savouring every bite of this delicious delicacy.
According to legend, the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan used to roam Minnesota. There was no sign of him today, but the sheer size of the waterfalls, lakes and even the ice cream proves this is still the land of the giants.